Opening songs of worship have been sung, the sermon has been stated, and the ceremonial cleansing and breaking of bread has taken place. You should feel satisfied and full from the message and fellowship with friends, but something inside of you still feels hollow. Emotions of loss, emptiness, and purpose begin to stir in your heart as you start to question:
If religion is suppose to fulfill the spiritual aspect of my life, then why do I still feel empty inside?
Anyone can enter into a church, follow through with the methods of religious tradition, and walk out the doors putting a checkmark next to their list of things to do for the week.
We can even believe in God, read the bible, rehearse a few memorized prayers, and say that we have completed our holy obligation, but even Satan is capable of completing the task.
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. -James 2:19
The truth is that the longing you feel will never be satisfied through the doors of religion. The hole of emptiness can only be filled through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the one who willingly gave up his life to fulfill God’s redeeming promise.
We can use as many methods of Sunday and Holiday traditions as we believe to be appropriate, but until we surrender our hearts and allow Jesus to be Lord over our life, the question will still linger, Why do I still feel spiritually empty?
During Jesus’ ministry, he recognized the pitfalls of religion by calling the Pharisees out on their hypocritical lives.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” –Matthew 23:27-28
When we allow religion to become the main object of our redemption, then we are missing the entire message of Salvation.
The entrance into the eternal gates of heaven is not by means of religious traditions or our good works; it is through a new birth in Jesus.
Jesus answered, “…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’-John 3:5-7
Although the nostalgia of religious traditions can warm our hearts and bring us into comfort, it is through an admission of our sins (Romans 3:23), believing in Jesus to forgive our sins (Acts 16:31), and confessing our sins (1 John 1:9) that our spiritual hunger can become satisfied.
How have religious obligations left you empty? Are you ready to relinquish control and what other’s think of you in order to satisfy the longing in your heart?